Adapted from Planned Parenthood

Considering Abortion

Is abortion the right option for me?

Having an unintended pregnancy is very common, and many people decide to have an abortion. Only you know what’s best for you, but good information and support can really help you make the decision that is best for your own health and well-being.

Why do people decide to have an abortion?

If you’re thinking about having an abortion, you’re so not alone. Millions of people face unplanned pregnancies every year, and about 4 out of 10 of them decide to get an abortion. Some people with planned pregnancies also get abortions because of health or safety reasons. Overall, 3 in 10 women in the U.S. will have an abortion by the time they’re 45 years old.

Sometimes, the decision is simple. Other times, it’s complicated. But either way, the decision to have an abortion is personal, and you’re the only one who can make it.

Everyone has their own unique and valid reasons for having an abortion. Some of the many different reasons people decide to end a pregnancy include:

  • They want to be the best parent possible to the kids they already have.
  • They’re not ready to be a parent yet.
  • It’s not a good time in their life to have a baby.
  • They want to finish school, focus on work, or achieve other goals before having a baby.
  • They’re not in a relationship with someone they want to have a baby with.
  • They’re in an abusive relationship or were sexually assaulted.
  • The pregnancy is bad for their health.
  • They just don’t want to be a parent.

Deciding to have an abortion doesn’t mean you don’t want or love children. In fact, 6 out of 10 people who get abortions already have kids — and many of them decide to end their pregnancies so they can focus on the children they already have. And people who aren’t already parents when they get an abortion often go on to have a baby later, when they feel they are in a better position to be a good parent. The bottom line is, deciding if and when to have a baby is very personal, and only you know what’s best for you and your family.

What can I think about to help me decide?

Family, relationships, school, work, life goals, health, safety, and personal beliefs — people think carefully about these things before having an abortion. But you’re the only person walking in your shoes, and the only person who can decide whether to have an abortion. The decision is 100% yours.

Here are some things to consider if you are thinking about an abortion:

  • Am I ready to be a parent?
  • Would I consider adoption?
  • What would it mean for my future if I had a child now?
  • What would it mean for my family if I had a child now?
  • How would being a parent affect my career goals?
  • Do I have strong personal or religious beliefs about abortion?
  • Is anyone pressuring me to have or not have an abortion?
  • Would having a baby change my life in a way I do or don’t want?
  • Would having an abortion change my life in a way I do or don’t want?
  • What kind of support would I need and get if I decided to get an abortion?
  • What kind of support would I need and get if I decided to have a baby?

Decisions about your pregnancy are deeply personal. You hold the power to make decisions that are best for you in order to stay on your own path to a healthy and meaningful life. There are lots of things to consider, and it’s totally normal to have many different feelings and thoughts when making this decision. That’s why it’s important to get factual, non-judgmental information about abortion. Support from family, friends, partners, and other people you trust can also be helpful. But at the end of the day, only you know what’s right for you.

Who can I talk with about getting an abortion?

Lots of people lean on others to help them with their decision. It’s good to choose people who you know are understanding and supportive of you.

Your local medical health center has caring professionals that can answer any questions you may have. They’ll give you expert care, accurate information about all your options, and non-judgmental support along the way — no matter what you decide about your pregnancy. Other family planning centers and private doctors may also talk with you about your decision.

No one should pressure you into making any decision about your pregnancy, no matter what. So it’s important to get the info and support you need from people who give you the real facts and won’t judge you.

If you’re having a hard time finding someone in your life to talk with, check out All-Options. All-Options has a free hotline that gives you a confidential space to talk about making decisions about a pregnancy. They’ll give you judgment-free support at any point in your pregnancy experience, no matter what you decide to do or how you feel about it.

When do I have to make a decision?

It’s important to take the time you need to make the best decision for you. It’s also a good idea to talk to a nurse or doctor as soon as you can so you can get the best medical care possible. The staff at your local health center is always here to provide expert medical care and support, no matter what decision you make.

Abortion is a very safe procedure. Here are the facts about your options, the different kinds of abortion, and what to expect.

What facts about abortion do I need to know?

What are the different kinds of abortion?

Medication abortion, also known as the “abortion pill,” is when you take medicines that you get from a trained doctor or nurse to end an early pregnancy. In-clinic abortion is done in a health center by a trained doctor or nurse. Both kinds of abortion are safe and effective.

First-trimester abortion facts:

In-Clinic Abortion Medication Abortion
How does it work? A doctor, nurse, or other health care provider uses medical instruments and gentle suction to remove the pregnancy from your uterus. You take pills that cause your pregnancy to end and your uterus to expel the pregnancy (like an early miscarriage).
How well does it work? It almost always works – over 99% of the time.

8 weeks or less: 98% of the time

8-9 weeks: 96% of the time

9-10 weeks: 93% of the time.

How long does the abortion take?

The abortion procedure usually takes about 10 minutes. But you’ll also need to meet with health center staff to talk about whether abortion is the right decision for you and what your abortion options are, have an exam and lab tests, and prepare for the procedure, read and sign forms, and stay in the recovery room after. The full visit usually takes a few hours to complete.

In some cases state law requires you to come to the health center on a separate visit before the abortion.

Abortions later in pregnancy may take longer and require more visits to the health center.

You take 1 pill at the health center, and the second pills 1-2 days later, usually at home. Most of the time the abortion is over within 24 hours after taking the second pills. Before you take any medication you’ll also need to meet with health center staff to talk about whether abortion is the right decision for you and what your abortion options are, have an exam and lab tests, and read and sign forms. The full visit usually takes a few hours to complete.  You will need to follow up to make sure the pills worked.

In some cases state law requires you to come to the health center on a separate visit before the abortion.

Advantages & Disadvantages
  • The procedure is quick — about 10 minutes.
  • You may have less bleeding and cramping afterwards than with a medication abortion.
  • You’ll have the abortion in the comfort of your own home, with whoever you want around for support.
  • It may feel more natural (similar to a miscarriage).

If you need an abortion and have passed your first trimester, you can learn about your in-clinic abortion options.

Is abortion safe?

Both in-clinic and medication abortions are very safe. In fact, abortion is one of the safest medical procedures out there. Overall, three 3 in 10 women in the U.S. will have an abortion by the time they’re 45 years old.

Planned Parenthood leads the country with the most up-to-date medical standards and guidelines for health care, including abortion. We regularly review new medical research and get updates from groups like the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Serious problems after an abortion are very rare. But like any medicine or medical procedure, there are some risks.

Learn more about the risks of in-clinic abortion and the risks of the abortion pill.

How will I feel after having an abortion?

You will get written after-care instructions and a phone number you can call if you have any questions or concerns. You may have to come back for a checkup or lab work after your procedure.

Plan on resting after your abortion. You can usually go back to work, school and most other normal activities the next day. Avoid hard work or heavy exercise for a few days. Don’t put anything inside your vagina (like a tampon) or have sex for 1 week after your abortion.

Most people feel fine within a day or two, but it’s common for bleeding to last for a week (or several weeks after the abortion pill). Cramping can happen for a few days.

It’s totally normal to have a lot of different feelings after your abortion — and there’s no one “right” way to feel. Most people feel relieved and don’t regret their decision. For some, having an abortion is simple and straightforward. Others may feel sadness, guilt, or regret after an abortion, just as they may after having a baby. Lots of people have all these feelings at different times.

Serious, long-term emotional problems after an abortion are rare. But everybody’s different, and certain things can make coping with an abortion hard. Most people feel better if they have someone supportive to talk to after an abortion. But even if you don’t think there’s anybody in your life you can talk with, you’re not alone. Your nurse or doctor can talk with you, or help you find a licensed counselor or a non-judgmental support group.

You can also call Exhale or All-Options, free after-abortion talk lines. They will give you confidential and non-judgmental emotional support after your abortion — no matter how you’re feeling.

Will an abortion affect my health?

Abortion is safe. Unless there’s a rare and serious complication that’s not treated, there’s no risk to your ability to have children in the future or to your overall health. Having an abortion doesn’t increase your risk for breast cancer or affect your fertility. In fact, it’s possible to get pregnant quickly after you have an abortion, so it’s a good idea to talk to your nurse or doctor about a birth control plan for after your abortion.

There are many myths out there about the effects of abortion. Your nurse or doctor can give you accurate information about any concerns you have.

You can find more information about abortions here and here.